Sign a Letter
The voices of union Members are needed
Fill out the form below to add your name to a letter to the ILO's Executive Director, Guy Ryder. We also urge you to take up the issue with your union’s leadership. If you have any questions, please contact AIDS-Free World here.
Mr. Guy Ryder
International Labour Organization
4 route des Morillons, CH-1211
Dear Mr. Director-General,
As members of the Union Locals listed below, we are writing to express our serious concern that the ILO is excluding millions of girls from your calculations of child labour, and indeed from your calculations of the worst forms of child labour.
After learning about the ILO's work on this important issue, it is clear to us that girls who are illegally married under the laws of a given country should properly be considered child labourers under existing ILO definitions. When a marriage is illegal under national law, that means a child cannot legally consent to the marriage, nor willingly leave it. Any work they do in that illegal spouse’s household should therefore rightfully be considered child labour. Thus, child marriage is child labour.
But it is not only that these girls are forced to perform domestic work, often for long hours. They also face terrible injustices, such as neglect, repeated rape, lack of education, heightened risk of HIV and life-threatening complications during childbirth. The fact that these children are subjected to physical, psychological, and sexual abuse should only increase the urgency of the ILO to highlight and denounce the labour which these children are forced to perform. Instead, the ILO’s insistence on neglecting these millions of child labourers undermines the productive campaign against child labour to which the ILO, and the labour movement, are committed.
Currently there are millions of under-aged girls being illegally forced into marriage around the world, but ILO statistics insist that child labour among girls has decreased by 40 percent from 2000 to 2012. It is time to be honest. It is time to correct the statistics. We call upon the ILO to include these illegally married girls in your child labour statistics. This will necessarily involve a reallocation of the ILO’s attention and resources to include this neglected population of child labourers.
As members of the labour movement, we know all too well that it takes time to develop an international consensus on difficult issues. That is why we urge you to lead by standing up, without delay, for the rights of girls in illegal child marriages, and acknowledge that child marriage is child labour.